May 14, 2017

Survival training: One woman’s story of perseverance

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Photos by Matthew Wright /

Jen Burtt of Leicester has come a long way since a harrowing car accident changed her life in more ways than one.

It’s been more than six years since Jennifer Burtt started doing the one thing that gives her purpose and keeps her healthy — providing support to others looking to change their way of life.

If it had not been for a devastating car wreck that left her friend dead and Burtt clinging to life, the former hairdresser likely wouldn’t have discovered that personal training — and helping people find their own new paths — was her life’s passion.

“It’s still amazing to me that the accident even happened. When I hear people tell me their accounts of what happened, or when I read the police reports, it’s crazy to think that that happened to me because I don’t remember any of it,” Burtt said in an interview on April 20, the same day she read through — for the very first time — a folder full of police and hospital reports her family saved to document the car crash that nearly took her life.

On July 12, 2010, at about 7:30 p.m., Burtt was a passenger in a Honda CR-V going more than 80 mph heading north on Interstate 395 in Killingly, Connecticut, when the vehicle swerved violently from the left shoulder, crossed two travel lanes and crashed into a raised divider at the Exit 93 [now exit 41] on-ramp.

According to reports from the Connecticut State Police, the SUV rolled over several times before finally coming to a halt.

When first responders arrived, they found Burtt had been thrown from the vehicle and was pinned beneath it. The driver was killed; Burtt and the other two passengers survived.

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